David Unsworth has told Everton’s Europa League flops they have played their way out of his plans.
Caretaker manager Unsworth made nine changes for his side’s midweek dead rubber against Atalanta and saw them hammered 5-1 in front of a paltry home crowd.
The 44-year-old’s tenure could be entering its final stretch at Southampton on Sunday, after majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri revealed an appointment was “close”, but that did not stop him laying down the law to his under-performing squad men.
“The players know exactly how I feel, they know I feel they let the club down,” he said.
“There are numerous players who didn’t play (against Atalanta) who are available to come back in. I asked the players to give me a problem, to stay in the team with an individual performance, and they’ve made my job easy in that respect.”
Everton’s midweek captain Wayne Rooney could be one of those returning to bench duty, with Ashley Williams, Cuco Martina, Sandro Ramirez, Davy Klaassen and Kevin Mirallas also vulnerable.
Whoever does make the side at St Mary’s will take the field with a clear message from Unsworth ringing in their ears.
He has presided over just one win in six games and says anything short of three points would be a short-changing the club’s supporters.
“I am really looking forward to it. It will be a tough game because Southampton are a good team, they pass the ball really well,” he said.
“But we must see a reaction now. Our players must stand up and have the courage to go and get a result on Sunday.
“I think we always owe it to the Everton fans to perform. Our players know that. They know my feelings and sentiments towards the great Everton fans.
“I think they do owe them a performance and I think, and know, they owe them a win.”
The Toffees will be without Oumar Niasse – the first Premier League player to be suspended for simulation – and midfielder Tom Davies, who has collected five bookings.
Phil Jagielka (back) and Morgan Schneiderlin (toe) are expected to get the all clear, but Mason Holgate’s groin complaint will keep him out for another game at least.